Do you feel like you’re constantly on edge? That everything is a potential source of stress and anxiety? If so, you may be suffering from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). This condition is characterised by excessive worry and fear that lasts for six months or more.
In this blog post, I will discuss all aspects of GAD including symptoms, causes, treatment options and lifestyle changes that will help reduce your symptoms.
What is Generalised Anxiety Disorder?
If you have generalised anxiety disorder, your worry and anxiety is uncontrollable. You may feel like it’s impossible to relax or focus on anything else. As a result, GAD has a major impact on your day-to-day life, impacting work, school, social life and relationships.
Generalised anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences excessive worry and anxiety on most days, for at least six months. To be diagnosed with GAD, your worry must be:
- Difficult to control
- Affecting daily life (work, school, social activities)
- A cause of distress
- Not caused by another medical condition or substance abuse
If you are struggling with generalised anxiety disorder, you are likely to experience physical symptoms such as:
- Muscle tension
- Trouble sleeping
It’s important to note that everyone experiences anxiety and worry at some point in their life. It’s only when these feelings are excessive, difficult to control and cause major distress that it becomes a problem.
Causes of Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Unfortunately, the exact cause of GAD is unknown. However, there are several risk factors that may contribute to the development of this condition including:
Genetics: If someone in your family has an anxiety disorder, you’re more likely to develop one as well.
Brain chemistry: An imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain (such as serotonin) may play a role in GAD.
Stressful life events: Traumatic or stressful life experiences (such as narcissistic abuse, the death of a loved one, divorce, etc.) can increase your risk of developing GAD.
Personality: People with certain personality traits (such as perfectionism) may be more likely to develop generalised anxiety disorder.
Treatment for GAD
If you’re suffering from generalised anxiety disorder, there are several treatment options available that can help reduce your symptoms.
Psychotherapy: This is a type of therapy that involves talking to a mental health professional about your thoughts, feelings and experiences. It can help you understand your anxiety and develop coping mechanisms to deal with it.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): This is a type of therapy that focuses on changing the negative thinking patterns that contribute to anxiety.
Medication: In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication (such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication) to help manage your symptoms.
It’s important to work with a mental health professional to find the treatment plan that’s right for you.
Lifestyle Changes to Help Reduce Symptoms
In addition to treatment, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your symptoms of GAD.
Exercise: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. It releases endorphins (a feel-good chemical) and helps improve sleep quality.
Healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can also help reduce stress and anxiety. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limit caffeine and alcohol intake.
Relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques (such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing) can help you control your anxiety.
Sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing anxiety. Be sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
If you’re struggling with GAD, know that you’re not alone. With treatment and lifestyle changes, you can manage your symptoms and live a happy and healthy life.
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